Printing costs generally represent the majority of the cost of producing your newsletter. If you have some flexibility in the choices of how and where you print your newsletter, you may be able to cut your printing costs substantially.
If you are currently printing in full color, you know that it is the most expensive choice for printing your newsletter. You can achieve great results from two- or even one-color printing by being creative with your design. Check out these resources for ideas and examples of how this technique can be effective:
Most people, when using only two ink colors, chose black plus an accent color. The accent color can be used to highlight sections of your newsletter. You can also use different tints or shades of your color choices to make it seem as if your newsletter has more than just those colors. It doesn't cost any extra to use tints when printing. Remember also that if you are using two colors of ink, a third color can be added by choosing a complimentary color for your paper.
If your budget is your primary concern, be sure to choose standard sizes for your newsletter, either letter sized (8.5 x 11) or tabloid sized (11 x 17, folded in half). Sizes other than this require your printer to print on standard sized paper and then trim it to the correct size, adding cost to the process.
When you are choosing paper, to save money only get the minimum in quality that you really need. Heavier paper is naturally more expensive than lighter-weight paper. You will need to evaluate how your newsletter will be distributed and what type of impression you need to make to determine the proper paper weight. For example, if your newsletter will be mailed without an envelope (a self-mailer), you will need a heavier-weight paper than that for a newsletter that will be set in a display on a counter for distribution. Choose at least 70# paper for mailed newsletters. Be aware though, that heavier paper can add to mailing costs. It is best to take several samples to your post office to understand how differing paper weights can affect both cost and successful mailing.
Finally, any extra feature in a paper can affect its cost. Coated papers, papers with special textures, or papers with effects like glitter can all hit your bottom line. If you are trying to save money, cut back on these special features and stick with plain paper, either white or colored.
Printing & Binding Techniques
If you are designing your newsletter to be printed with no bleeds, you may wish to reconsider this technique to save you money. Bleeds are pages that have ink applied to the page all the way to the edge, so that there is no margin between the edge of the paper and the printed elements on the page. In other words, the ink goes right off the page. Bleeds are costly because the printer is required to print your newsletter on an oversized sheet of paper and then trim it to the correct size. Otherwise, inks cannot be applied right to edge, as printing presses need a portion of the page to grab onto to feed it through. Both the use of the oversized paper and the need for trimming can add to the cost of printing for you.
If you are spending extra money on special binding techniques, you may also wish to reconsider your newsletter design. For example, if your newsletter is a tri-fold document, switching to a bi-fold will save you money.
Work With Your Printer
Shopping your newsletter printing around can save you money in printing costs. Different printers will be willing to work with you in different ways, especially if you have a large quantity of newsletters to print. Different presses are available to different printers, so depending on the type of newsletter you've produced, you may find substantially differing quotes from various printers. Since not all print shops have every type of press, it can pay to shop around.
A lower quote does not necessarily mean that this printer is your best choice however. Be sure to get some sample work printed to compare quality as well. A particularly low quote may mean poor quality, something you'll want to avoid. The quality of your final printed publication can depend on the type of press they use, the training level of the employees, and the attention to detail that the printer gives to your job. Any printer you are considering should be willing to give you samples of jobs that are similar to yours, allowing you to evaluate their quality. If a printer says there are no samples available, it would be best not to choose that printer.
Once you've chosen a great printer, be sure to use his or her expertise to help guide you to cost-saving techniques. Simply ask your printer how you can reduce your costs. A good printer who will work with you can save you substantially, especially over the long term.